Inside an elegant celebration at the Gardiner Museum

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Emily Murphy and Matthew Strevens met five years ago, at a St. Patrick’s Day party at Amsterdam Brewhouse on Queens Quay. A mutual friend introduced them, and it turns out they attended Dalhousie at the same time (though two years apart), and had pals in common. “I spent the day laughing until I cried,” says Emily of their first meeting. They went on two dates the next week: the first was drinks at the Shore Club on Wellington. Emily had enlisted her sister Shannon to call her halfway through in case she needed an escape plan. Three missed calls later, drinks turned into dinner, and dinner turned into four years together.

In January, 2018, Emily, the self-described planner of the relationship, was surprised when Matthew told her to reserve a weekend for something special. On Saturday morning, she woke up to her favourite breakfast in bed: avocado, smoked salmon and a poached egg on a croissant, with a mimosa. Matthew then handed her a detailed itinerary of the day, which included a trip to the SkyZone for trampolining and a night at Langdon Hall. At the very bottom of the itinerary Matthew added, “But first, ask your best friend if she’ll marry you.”

For their big day, the pair wanted something simple and elegant downtown, with easy transport options for guests. “Neither of us are fussy people,” says Emily. They debated between two venues: The Gardiner Museum and the Royal Conservatory of Music, and settled on the former. They loved the natural light and minimalist architecture, and kept the decor simple to let the building’s clean lines and modern touches shine. Here’s a look inside the couple’s day, which started with a first look at the Kimpton Saint George, and ended with an epic dance party.

Cheat Sheet

Date: June 22, 2019
Photographer: Erin Leydon
Planner: Lexington and Co.
Hair and Makeup: Justin Rousseau; Mar Gordon of Dawna Boot Makeup
Bride’s Dress: Lis Simon
Groom’s Outfit: Made Clothing Co.
Venue: The Gardiner Museum
Caterer: The Food Dudes
Flowers: Kenilworth Floral
Music: Wellington Music (String Trio) and Colthrust Entertainment (DJ)
Cake: Sugar Buds Bakery (Sabrina Singh)
Invitations: Minted
Guests: 155

Matt got ready with his groomsmen at his parents’ house in Leaside. They hit up Five Guys for lunch and had beers in the backyard:

Emily spent the night before the wedding by herself at the Kimpton Saint George. In the morning, her bridesmaids joined her for hair and makeup. She gifted them earrings from Toronto brand Mejuri:

This was the second dress Emily found. The first was damaged in a fire at Beckers Bridal on the Danforth a few months before her wedding. It was a challenge to find something else so last-minute, but Emily loved the contemporary lace detailing on this number from Calgary designer Lis Simon:

The Kimpton cleared out their lobby so the couple could have a private first look. They both agreed it was one of the best parts of the day: “It was an intimate moment before all of the chaos,” says Emily:

After, they wandered around the neighbourhood to snap some pics and found this rainbow flower arrangement at Club Monaco that had been set up for Pride:

Usually, couples are only able to use the event space in the Gardiner Museum, which can fit 140 people, cocktail-style. Luckily, there was no exhibition going on at the time, so they were also able to take over the exhibit space for dinner. They set up the event space with ghost chairs for the ceremony:

They kept the ceremony short. The pair loved the asymmetrical flower arrangements: “They were the perfect focal point for the big glass room,” says Emily:

After, guests mingled in the courtyard over cocktails and cananpés. The couple hired a string trio for their ceremony, who also played throughout cocktail hour:

Emily shared a moment with her sister, Shannon, while taking in the views of the ROM and the downtown Toronto skyline:

They used the museum’s exhibition space for dinner. They chose a mix of tall flower arrangements and shorter, fuller ones, because they wanted them to look like they were growing organically from a garden:

Lindsey Gazel made custom cookies for everyone in the wedding party:

Dinner was catered by the Food Dudes, and included prime beef tenderloin with truffle pomme purée and sea bass with heirloom carrots, beet slaw and a fennel-leek cream:

They couldn’t decide on a cake flavour, so chose two: cookies and cream, and vanilla with fresh strawberries and cream. They saved the top layer to eat on their first anniversary:

Their first dance was to “I’ll Always Remember You This Way” from A Star Is Born:

Things got a little moodier for the dance party:

Their nephew was the star of the dance floor: